Saturday, February 7, 2009

Capturing Characters

As can be seen in the comments from my last post, I'm surrounded by some great personalities, such as my nephew, who is full of "total awesomeness." These are the people whose words and ways fill our minds and color our world.

People have asked me where I get my characters, and I usually answer that my characters are an amalgam of all the people I've known or seen, whether in life, in books, or in film. If you pay a little attention to those around you, or to the forms of entertainment you indulge in, you can find elements of different characters all over the place. And if you allow those traits to mingle, the possibilities are endless.

But sometiems I've used very particular scenes and quotes from my life in my books. Consider one of my grandmother's most famous quotes: "Don't talk to strangers, even if you know them." I've used that in one of my romantic comedies. If you have a great line like that, why not make use of it? It makes a character more real to the reader, and it adds a personal touch to your writing.

So as a writer, keeping your eyes peeled and your ears opened is a great habit to adopt. You never know what sort of interesting characteristics and memory-making lines you'll pick up along the way.

Sometimes, the people in your life are more intriguing than anything you could make up!

8 comments:

Ethan M. said...

Great Grandma said that? That's a pretty cool quote. I'm gonna start using that. Oh, and it looks like we're gonna be using this "total awesomeness" term until the the end of time. lol!

Rachel said...

I thought it was funny you chose to write about characters 'cause just this morning I bought a character creation helper from wherethemapends.com. I am the plot-first kind of girl and though I have a pretty good grasp of my herioine, my male characters end up lacking. I make him too perfect- you know the incredibly handsome guy that always says the right things! My husband would read my dialogue, laugh, and say "Rach, what guy actually says this." Gotta love honesty! Anyways, I agree with you about taking quirks and remarks from those around you. I'm currently working on a novel based in 1947 (after WWII) and the lead man character was a fighter pilot. I did that in honor of my grandpa. He was a fighter pilot ace and I always loved listening to his stories. He just recently went to Heaven so this piece is a little more dear to me than others. But anyways, I'll quit rambling. I enjoy your posts Jennifer!

Jennifer Valent said...

Thanks, Rachel. I'm glad you enjoy stopping by the blog!

I love great characters! Sounds like your book inspired by your grandfather could be very rich in character development since you have a personal attachment to it.

If you'd like to read more about character development, you can find an article I wrote at:

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=263691&sp=72136

Happy writing!

Jennifer Valent said...

I can't believe you never heard that quote, Ethan. It's a classic!

Oh, and I'd avoid using the total awesomeness line with just anybody. Might get you punched! :)

Blakelyn said...

This was one of my questions for you tomorrow! I was telling Joe at lunch on Thursday how one thing I was curious about was your characters, and if they reflect people in your life (such as your parents and Jessilyn's parents). One of my other questions, which you can answer on Monday, is where you came up with all the names.

I finished the book today - what a great ending! Can't wait to find out what happens 4 years down the road. I hope a certain someone is still single at age 23.

Jennifer Valent said...

Thanks, Blakelyn! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. Really looking forward to Monday!

Rachel said...

Thanks Jennifer. That was a really helpful article. Although you almost lost me on your reference to "Sam Spade part two". I had to control my laughter, my kiddies are in sweet slumber. Anyways it was encouraging. Thanks again.

Ethan M. said...

Haha! You're probably right! Actually, Mom had never heard of that line either...